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Published:September 6th, 2005 05:42 EST
Customer Courtesy Earns Business Respect

Customer Courtesy Earns Business Respect

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

All of us have certain businesses where we are regulars " the mail center, the bank, the restaurant (coffee place) or the barbershop.  We would like to think we are welcome in these or such places.  But, are we?

If there were ways to practically guarantee acceptance (and possibly better service) in most businesses, you`d want to know about them, wouldn`t you?  I have good news. I know such ways.  You do, too, though we tend to forget them.  In a nutshell, they involve simply treating those with whom we do business the way we want customers to treat us at our business. Sounds easy enough " for you!  However, when I suggest these techniques ", and urge you toward greater effort in these areas, I then obligate myself to greater effort in these areas, as well.  So, let`s think carefully, together, regarding these matters. 

The first thing we can do to make ourselves welcome in various businesses involves our entrance.  Understated entrances are nice.  In most cases we`re not the first, or only, customer of the day.  There`s no need to make a grand entrance or to blow a bugle " to announce our arrival.  Just casually enter (as opposed to standing in the door until we are noticed) and take a seat or get in line.

Prompt exits are also nice.  Recently, Sherry and I ate at our favorite hamburger place.  When I went up to the counter to order, I stepped in line behind a man and his wife.  She did the ordering for them.  When she finished, her husband stepped to the side.  She proceeded to visit with the lady behind the counter and was completely oblivious to the fact that I was waiting.  Worse yet, when her husband mentioned that I was waiting to order, she chose to ignore him and me.  Speaking from experience as one that occasionally has customers remain in the chair after their haircut, this becomes very awkward for those in business.  When it becomes a habit, it`s not only inconsiderate.  It`s downright irritating. 

What goes on between our entrance and exit can also affect how we are received in a business we frequent.  For example, if there is opportunity to visit with the one in business, what kind of questions do we ask?  Are they excessively personal?  Do they probe for confidential information about the business?  Do we ask so many questions that the business-person feels as if he/she is under a bright light with Sergeant Joe Friday standing over him?  For best impressions, such conversations should stay casual and (usually) light.

Also, when it comes to talking about ourselves, we should never leave people in the establishment saying, That is really more than I wanted to know. "  Private business regarding finances, family, health, and marital or personal problems should remain private; and should certainly not be broadcast via cell phone conversations.

If conversation is limited to requests related to business, again, we need to keep in mind how we would like to be treated.  May I please have more coffee " is certainly more acceptable than shoving the cup toward a server, and demanding, Coffee! "  Please be careful about cutting the crown too short " comes across better to the barber than You cut it too short back there last time. "  People who serve are not servants, and when so treated tend to become defensive and uncooperative.  When appreciated, as we all like to be, then those in business often consider us friends instead of simply customers.  And, we are always welcome.

BARBER-OSOPHY:  Be one who brightens a business just by entering instead of by leaving.   

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.